photos: Ashlea Wessel
You're really, really young
and really, really successful do people totally
hate you? No, but sometimes I get people assuming
I'm the nurse or the receptionist. They're shocked to
find out this young blonde-haired girl is their doctor.
But they get over it pretty quickly.
On top of all that other stuff,
you also keep up your gymnastics training. When
I was a teenager, I trained 25 hours per week in the
gym. That's what made me so good at managing my time.
Doesn't sound like you had much
time to be a wild child. I used to be a big partier,
but not anymore.
Why'd you pick the white coat
over the leotard? Once you're 15 you're done in
gymnastics. It's not like golf.
But you still do gymnastics?
After university I was looking for another sport where
I could use my gymnastics so I got into fitness training,
which is kind of gymnastics combined with dance. I entered
a fitness competition and became Miss Fitness Manitoba.
They wanted me to go on to compete nationally, but I
went to medical school instead.
Can you do a back flip?
Yes, I can.
Very cool. Is that your best
move? Yeah, probably. I can stand on my hands for
a couple of minutes, too.
Are eating disorders completely
entrenched in gymnastics? Yeah, whenever you're
being judged there is pressure to stay thin and stay
fit. Also, the leaner you are, the easier it is to do
Did you have to deal with that
pressure? I never had a problem with an eating disorder
when I was in training. I could eat whatever I wanted
and I'd just burn it off. But when I was 15 I had a
knee injury and I put on 20 pounds over six months because
my body wasn't used to be being inactive and I was an
adolescent and didn't know how to eat properly.
Did you become anorexic?
I definitely struggled with unhealthy eating habits.
That's what prompted my whole interest in nutrition
and preventive health.
That brings us to your diet
book. According to the jacket, the secret to dieting
success is "the 4th macronutrient"? Sounds like something
picked up on the Mars mission. Most people are familiar
with just three macronutrients proteins, carbohydrates
and fats. The fourth is water. I teach people how to
eat water-rich foods. Those foods fill you up, but with
Like watermelon and cucumbers.
I get it. Your diet also recommends something called
"hotty" foods. Is that because they'll make me look
hotter? It's about thermogenesis but that's a mouthful
to say and it sounds too scientific so I call it the
hotty effect. When we eat certain foods, our body is
encouraged to burn calories. It's hard for the body
to burn hotty foods, so our body burns fat instead.
It takes no work for the body to work through carbs
and fat, but meat a hotty food has more
chemical bonds so it's harder for the body to break
Hm, sounds like another diet
I know. Do you see yourself as the next Atkins?
Yeah, I do. Right now, there's no female Canadian physician
who's advocating for weight loss. I hope to be that
Like you said, most of the diets
are written by men. Do you take a different approach
as a woman? I think it's an advantage. Women's intuition,
I definitely have that. Also, people are harder on women
about how they look. I've been there. I know the emotional
battle they go through about not liking how they look.
Do you practise what you preach?
I'm exactly the same as all my patients, so it's tough.
I love sweets and junk and cookies and pretzels. I love
it all, but I also like to feel good. When I go out
with my friends, I have the cake. I let myself indulge
in the things I love. You are going to mess up and cheat
there are days I eat terribly and I mess up,
but it's about committing yourself to a new lifestyle.
Coincidentally, this is our
Practice Management special issue. You recently helped
found a web-based EMR program. Yep, it's called
Let me guess, low-cal medical
records? My incentive for creating it is it will
be free for physicians to use. Right now lots of FPs
are pressured to go to e-charting, and they'll have
to put thousands of dollars into it. I don't think it's
fair to make doctors pay all this money to have a better
practice management tool. I wanted to create a bare
bones system for people who don't know how to start
or can't afford an expensive system.
A free EMR... there must be
a catch. Are there lots of ads? Maybe later if a
lot of docs start using it. Right now, doctors can charge
patients to use the system, 40 or 50 bucks a year and
part comes back to Biopod. That could actually be a
source of revenue for doctors. The initial goal was
to create something for the patient they don't
remember all their meds, they don't carry copies of
EKGs, they don't remember their whole past medical history
but I think that is sort of creative thinking
to incentivize GPs. Doctors need to be rewarded rather
than told to spend $25,000 to get a system that's
What's with the name? [Laughs]
You know like iPod, and Bio is life. It's cutting-edge,
something you can carry around in your hand.
Any threatening calls from Apple
yet about the name? No, no.
by Sam Solomon
things you didnt know about... Melissa Hershberg
Why she insists her patients
call her Dr Melissa 'Dr Hershberg' still sounds
like my father-in-law to me.
What's on her iPod Fergie
(from The Black Eyed Peas) and Gwen Stefani
If she were to team up with
a celebrity chef, she'd pick... Jamie Oliver.
I could hold my own with him I can be tough.
And I like his little lisp.
Her fave place to eat the
4th macronutrient in Toronto The Lettuce Eatery.
Actually they're launching a salad based on the
Hershberg diet, called the H20. I think it has
blue cheese and apples in it.
What she's reading My
guilty pleasure is celebrity magazines. If I want
to veg out that's what I read.